NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is pressing allies to pitch in a total of €500 million ($543 million) a year to help Ukraine with non-lethal aid and other long-term support, according to people familiar with the matter.
The head of the military alliance wants allies to boost contributions to a fund for NATO’s comprehensive assistance package for Ukraine, which includes short-term aid like fuel, protective equipment and anti-drone systems used to counter Russia’s invasion, said the people who asked not to be named on a confidential issue.
The package is also aimed at providing Ukraine with long-term support to help modernize its armed forces and meet NATO interoperability standards. Many details have yet to be worked out, one of the people said.
While the assistance is non-lethal, helping Ukraine move to NATO standards could also by default help allies sustain lethal support with modern weapons deliveries during the war as allies run low on Soviet-era arms.
A NATO spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Stoltenberg told reporters on Monday the alliance’s foreign ministers would agree to start work on a multi-year program for Ukraine when they gather in Brussels for a two-day meeting starting Tuesday.
In addition to immediate support for Ukraine to fend off Russia, Stoltenberg said allies would look into a longer-term partnership with Ukraine to offer support after the war has ended. That will help Ukraine “to move closer to NATO by implementing reforms, by continuing to modernize their defense and security institutions, including fighting corruption, and by moving from Soviet-era equipment, standards, doctrines to NATO standards and doctrines,” he said.
Allies have reiterated NATO’s pledge that Ukraine will become a member. But the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has held back on offering a timeline or more concrete steps despite Ukraine’s renewed bid, given the risk of becoming embroiled in a direct conflict with Russia.
Still, allies want to keep Ukraine close over the long term and help lay the foundations for its eventual membership, including by bolstering its defenses to prevent Russia from attempting another incursion after the current war ends.
And while Stoltenberg again held back on giving a concrete timeline for Ukraine’s membership on Monday, he said improving Ukraine’s interoperability and helping it transition from Soviet-era to NATO standards “helps to move Ukraine closer to Euro-Atlantic integration, to the NATO family.”
NATO is due to welcome its 31st member Tuesday after all allies ratified Finland’s bid. That leaves Sweden hoping to finalize its membership prospects by the time NATO leaders meet in Vilnius in July, although Turkey and Hungary are currently still blocking it.